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Book review: 'Elemental' is a fun mix of pirates, plague and powers

By Nathan Sorensen

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Feb. 16 2013 1:30 p.m. MST

"ELEMENTAL," by Antony John, Dial, $17.99, 326 pages (f) (ages 16 and up)

For the teenage reader in search of an end-of-the-world fantasy adventure with a splash of pirates and touch of elemental magic, this one may be worth a whirl.

But for those who like getting lost in a hearty romance or an ethical drama, it might just put them out of their element.

The young adult, dystopian fantasy novel "Elemental" by Schneider award-winning Antony John follows 16-year-old Thomas and a group of his gifted friends at the cusp of adulthood, each of them learning to identify and control their genetic gifts. For some, that means igniting fires and controlling flames. For others, it's predicting storm patterns and controlling violent winds.

For Thomas, it means simply wishing he had a gift.

But when a violent storm forces Thomas and his friends to leave their parents behind and travel to the nearby Roanoke Island to take shelter in Skeleton Town, they learn that not everything they have heard about the island is true.

Then come the pirates — and their measures start to get truly desperate.

As the teens seek shelter from hurricanes and pirates who have captured their parents, they uncover secrets about their past, the island and their "elements" — secrets that have been kept safe for years.

Not the least of which is Thomas' unique gift that everyone seems to know about — except for him.

For readers who liked "Ship Breaker" and "The Maze Runner" and are seeking an adventurous mystery novel filled with pirates, plagues and special powers, here's a great series opener, with the promise of more action to come.

But for those looking for a thoughtful and introspective protagonist who's bright, inquisitive and intriguing, someone they'd like to bump into at some point, they may find Thomas a little flat — especially if they like a young romance story of a boy torn by two loves.

There are a few "for-pirates'-ears-only" words to watch out for, as well as some graphic descriptions of torture and physical harm.

Nathan Sorensen is an editorial intern at Deseret News.

Email: nsorensen@desnews.com

Twitter: @sorensenate

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